Aldi’s $199 product sells out in seconds
Aussies love a good bargain - especially an Aldi Special Buys bargain.
In case you didn't know, last year the German discount store had people lining up all over the country for its popular $199 rocking chair, and this year was no exception.
At Aldi North Strathfield in Sydney's inner west there were about 35 people anxiously waiting with trolleys in today's excessive 30C heat to get their hands on the best-selling item.
Among them were pregnant women - some who were weeks away from giving birth - and husbands on strict orders.
Sue Awadallah said she came to the North Strathfield store to avoid missing out, saying she hoped there would be shorter lines there compared to other stores such as Chatswood, which also sold out of the item in less than one minute last year.
The $199 rocking chair has become something of a cult product ever since it launched as part of the retailer's "Special Buys" range in July 2017 - in some cases stores have had to introduce a ticketing system to avoid chaos.
Ms Awadallah of Five Dock is seven weeks away from giving birth to her first child and wanted the rocking chair for her nursery.
"My husband was like, 'And how are you planning on getting this to the car?' and I told him I'll obviously get someone to help me," Ms Awadallah said laughing, adding, "You can't pass a bargain like this."
Usually a rocking chair of similar quality retails for about $700 at other major stores, but Aldi offers it for just under $200.
"I heard it is really good quality and it sold out so fast last year so I thought I'd get one too," a pregnant Sophia Mahran told news.com.au while waiting in line.
Alyssa O'Neil said it was a bit chaotic at the Rydalmere store where her friend was, so opted to come to North Strathfield instead.
"I told her I'll get her one too if she missed out."
As soon as those electric doors opened at 8.30am, everyone swarmed in, heading straight to the "middle section" of the store where all the Special Buys items were stacked up.
Aldi releases a series of unusual, limited edition products twice a week called Special Buys. They're super cheap, you can only buy them in store and there's a limited amount of stock available.
Unfortunately the majority of people, including three pregnant women who waited in line for about half an hour, missed out on the desired rocking chair as there were only four on display - they sold in just 30 seconds.
However, their extreme and utter disappointment soon turned to relief as store staff advised there were plenty more out the back. They just couldn't fit them on the display racks.
"I can't believe how quick they sell," customers could be heard saying as they lined up inside the store, waiting to be handed the chair from out the back by staff.
Spirits were lifted as everyone who lined up for the chair felt accomplished, including Michael Truong who couldn't afford walking out empty-handed. He was sent on strict orders by his wife not leave the store without having nabbed one.
"We have a four-week-old baby boy at home and my wife wanted it for his nursery. Normally I wouldn't have got it but because of the price, especially when others sell for so much more, I couldn't pass it up," he said.
The chair - available with normal legs or rocking legs - quickly became a popular nursery item with breastfeeding mums who sang its praises on parenting forums all over the country.
It was so popular the German retailer reintroduced it into stores in January last year. Moments after the chair went on sale, it was sold out in most stores around Australia.
Retail expert Brian Walker from the Retail Doctor Group said Aldi's Special Buys strategy was "calculated" to create "surprise and theatre" and attract more shoppers into stores.
"The plan to distribute to stores would be known weeks and months in advance … the reality of it is when a product is very popular there is very limited supply, and that's going to create difficulties for some consumers," he told news.com.au when it sold out earlier last year.
"You've only got to go on social media to see some of the comments and I think any damage to reputation is not good. It would be practical if shoppers who saw a Special Buy could ring a store and ask how many units they would be stocking in advance, but of course they won't do that as it defeats the purpose.
"It's a very calculated gamble that some consumers will miss out, but it's working for them."
In 2018, ABC's The Checkout looked at whether ALDI's habit of advertising such a limited amount stock was an example of "bait advertising", which violates Australian Consumer Law.
But all-in-all, the Aldi Special Buys have proved Aussies love a good bargain.